I Love Italian Travel - May Attractions Of Central Italy, Part I

TuscanySo you are planning to spend your May holidays in Tuscany or elsewhere in central Italy. Don't worry; there are lots and lots of special spring events that simply aren't available in the good old summertime. Here are some of them. Get rolling; May is almost upon us. We start our virtual tour in Tuscany on the western Tyrrhenian Sea coast and then proceed clockwise  to The Marches on the Adriatic Sea. There are so many things to see and do in central Italy in May that this is the first of three articles.

One of Florence's best-kept secrets is the stunning Iris Garden of Florence, a former olive grove on the eastern slope of Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the city. As its name indicates, this garden includes a fabulous iris collection. There are also century old trees and an unforgettable view of the city of Florence and its surroundings. This lovely garden is open to the public only from May 2 until May 20; make sure not to miss it. The city of Pescia, home to about 20 thousand, celebrates Pinocchio's Birthday on May 25th. You may choose to celebrate it at the Pinocchio Park in the city of Collodi, population about 25 thousand, named for this author who unfortunately died without an inkling of the colossal success of his children's story. On the final weekend of the month the similarly sized city of Cortona celebrates the Archidado Games that commemorate an upper-class marriage, which took place in the late Fourteenth-Century. You'll enjoy seeing townspeople dressed in traditional costumes. On Saturday there are religious ceremonies and processions and crossbow competitions that pit neighborhood against neighborhood on the following day.

On the first Sunday in May, the town of Tolentino, with a population of approximately 20 thousand, presents their historic Le Marche Festa. This is a military pageant recreating the Napoleonic period. The key activity takes place at the Castello della Rancia commemorating an 1815 battle which some historians and others consider to be the first battle in the war for Italian independence. Between the first and second weeks of May the town of Camerino, population 7 thousand, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of the regional capital Ancona, hosts their Fifteenth Century Le Marche Festa that just happens to coincide with the festival of the city's patron saint, San Venanzio. A major festival highlight is the Corsa alla spada in which competitors race up the town's wonderful steep alleys and streets. Another is the Giostra della Quintana (historical jousting tournament). You'll definitely enjoy the local food and wine specialties.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet but he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches various computer classes in an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.